United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND
MARIA-ELENA JAMES United States Magistrate Judge.
an inmate at the Sonoma County Jail (“SCJ”),
filed this pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Plaintiff is granted leave to proceed in forma
pauperis in a separate order. Based upon a review of the
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, it is dismissed
with leave to amend.
Standard of Review
courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in
which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or
officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(a). In its review the court must identify any
cognizable claims, and dismiss any claims which are
frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who
is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),
(2). Pro se complaints must be liberally construed. See
Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010).
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
“Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need
only “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . .
claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.”
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007)
(citations and internal quotations omitted). Although a
complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations
[in order to state a claim], . . . a plaintiff's
obligation to provide the grounds of his ‘entitle[ment]
to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and
a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do. . . . Factual allegations must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Id. at 570.
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by
the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated,
and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person
acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins,
487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
the complaint, on January 8, 2017, while housed at SCJ,
plaintiff refused an order to move from a lower bunk to an
upper bunk. The order was given by defendant deputy A.
Marlowe. Plaintiff alleges that he refused to move bunks
because he had a disability, which was documented. Marlowe
proceeded to solicit a mental health worker to analyze
plaintiff, which led to plaintiff's transfer to the
mental health unit. Plaintiff identifies the mental health
worker as defendant John Doe.
filed inmate grievances challenging the housing
reclassification. In the decisions rejecting his grievances,
he was informed that Marlowe was unaware of plaintiff's
lower bunk accommodations and was acting under instructions
from defendant Sergeant Gallaway, who had suggested the
mental health intervention based on plaintiff's behavior
after being directed to move to an upper bunk.
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S.
Constitution protects individuals against governmental
deprivations of life, liberty or property without due process
of law. Interests that are procedurally protected by the Due
Process Clause may arise from two sources: the Due Process
Clause itself and laws of the states. See Meachum v.
Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 223-27 (1976). In the prison
context, these interests are generally ones pertaining to
liberty. Changes in conditions so severe as to affect the
sentence imposed in an unexpected manner implicate the Due
Process Clause itself, whether or not they are authorized by
state law. See Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484
(1995) (citing Vitek v. Jones, 445 U.S. 480, 493
(1980) (transfer to mental hospital), and Washington v.
Harper, 494 U.S. 210, 221-22 (1990) (involuntary
administration of psychotropic drugs)). Deprivations that are
less severe or more closely related to the expected terms of
confinement may also amount to deprivations of a procedurally
protected liberty interest, provided that the liberty in
question is one of “real substance.” See
Sandin, 515 U.S. at 477-87. An interest of “real
substance” will generally be limited to freedom from
restraint that imposes an “atypical and significant
hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents
of prison life” or “will inevitably affect the
duration of [a] sentence.” Id. at 484, 487.
plaintiff alleges that he spent six weeks in the mental
health unit causing him to miss classes, which classes would
have allowed him to earn milestone credits towards his
sentence. Accepting that as true, as the court must at the
pleading stage, the complaint alleges sufficient facts to
show an atypical and significant hardship was imposed on
plaintiff. However, the complaint does not sufficiently link
any defendant to this claim. Specifically, although plaintiff
alleges that defendants Marlowe and Gallaway ordered a mental
health analysis, he does not establish that these defendants,
or any other defendant(s), were responsible for the decision
to transfer plaintiff to the mental health unit without due
process. Leave to amend will be granted so that plaintiff may
allege facts, if they exist, showing who made the housing
decision. In his amended complaint, plaintiff also must
identify the procedural protections - such as notice or a
hearing - not provided to him before he was transferred.